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Concussions in the NFL: Are You Protected?

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The 2012-13 NFL season saw more than 160 players go down with head injuries, a high-profile wrongful death lawsuit, and even had President Obama commenting on the extreme violence in football. In response, the NFL donated $30 million in September to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain injury research. Given that this was the single-largest donation in league history, it's obvious that the NFL is concerned about the growing number of concussions and head injuries occurring in the league.

While research is great, the truth is that football is dangerous. It's meant to be rough and injuries happen. We want to prevent them as best we can, but the real question here is what happens to you if you're injured and can no longer play? A concussion heals on its own, but a player's body can only take so much before he is forced to retire or worse, face serious brain damage. It's not just concussions, as a professional athlete, you are at risk for all types of injury, from broken bones to long-term illness. The nature of the game is that you're going to get hurt. The question is how will you protect yourself when and if you do?

The solution lies in preparing now, for a worst-case scenario. If you are injured and can no longer play, how do you maintain your standard of living or at least be able to pay your bills? Disability insurance policies are a must for any professional athlete. When your job involves being in tip-top shape, there is no better protection than individual disability insurance. The type of individual disability policy you buy really matters, it can't just be any old policy. An Own Occupation clause should be included to ensure your standard of living remains the same if you can no longer be the starting running back.

An Own Occupation policy protects players if they can't perform the important duties of their job-say throwing the ball for a quarterback-and allows him to claim his monthly benefit even if he could do some other work for gain or profit. Without this clause, players are not entitled to their monthly benefit because they can still work-just with a serious pay cut. You could be stuck owning a home, cars, and bills that your old paycheck could afford, but your new one can't. A disability policy with an Own Occupation protection ensures that your standard of living won't be affected should you become injured. It is a must-have for all professional athletes.

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